In the past few months I have been presented with the question of how to follow the path of social work and the path of ministry. For me these two paths are often meshed into one but a recent struggle has come with not knowing if I can become a Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW) and hold a leadership position in the church.
The conflict comes in with the National Association of Social Work Code of Ethics and doing holistic ministry; one of the code of ethics is to not have dual roles. Yet, if I were to become an active member (a small group leader, a deaconess, or pastor) at the church I practiced social work there would inevitably be dual roles … thus my question of is it possible to be a social worker (which is a protected title in Texas and only happens if you receive your MSW and are Licensed) and live out a holistic life serving the church. Now some might say don’t become a titled social worker and use the skills you learned from your master’s … I would have to say this is a definite appeal to me but I truly believe it is possible to be licensed and do ministry, I’m just not sure what that looks like.
I believe it to be possible for many reason but the main one being that I think Jesus was the greatest social worker of all! There is no question about it; he gave a voice to the voiceless, hope to the hopeless, met the needs of the needy, and fought for justice in all of his actions. I desire to follow that model (with my flaws and all) by becoming be a social worker and living out this thing called community within my church. I believe it is possible and I think the church needs social workers just as much as social workers need the resources and community of the church.
The church (being the church at large), in my opinion, has missed the mark in caring for God’s people and working together to serve God’s people. Now this isn’t to say there are not churches doing amazing things within their communities, that is not what I’m saying at all. What I am saying is that for various reasons, and they differ from region to region, the church has not continually reached out to their communities and worked with other churches in their communities to serve God’s people, no matter where they are in life. It is for this reason that I have to believe that the passions God has given me, to do social work and to work within the church, can take place together in a beautifully divine fusion.
It is beyond confusing to be passionate about where you feel you will work in life and see these two paths possibly colliding before they even get to embrace each other within your own life. Nonetheless, the wonderful part to this is I know this intertwined relationship of vocations is possible, I simply have to fight for it and allow the Spirit to move and lead me to it.
The journey isn’t meant to be one of clear answers or unquestionable paths. No, the journey is meant to be a passionate wrestling between the certain and the uncertain aspects of life. I’m thankful that God welcomes these questions and is strong enough to handle all the punches I might throw.
Nothing worth while in life is easy so I would have to say this journey I’m on in grad school: working on my MDiv and MSW, living life in my community, and trying to fall in love with my church again, is a worth while journey; even if I don’t always see it until my 20/20 hindsight comes into play.
Until next time … keep loving, laughing, seeking, and questioning!